The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie - HTML preview

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Let no word of this, however, seem to decry the value of recreation. Nothing is more vital to a worker than rest--yet nothing is so vitiating to the shirker. Be sure that your recreation re-creates. A pause in the midst of labors gathers strength for new effort. The mistake is to pause too long, or to fill your pauses with ideas that make life flabby.

Choosing a Subject

Subject and materials tremendously influence each other.

"This arises from the fact that there are two distinct ways in which a subject may be chosen: by arbitrary choice, or by development from thought and reading.

"Arbitrary choice ... of one subject from among a number involves so many important considerations that no speaker ever fails to appreciate the tone of satisfaction in him who triumphantly announces: 'I have a subject!'

"'Do give me a subject!' How often the weary school teacher hears that cry. Then a list of themes is suggested, gone over, considered, and, in most instances, rejected, because the teacher can know but imperfectly what is in the pupil's mind. To suggest a subject in this way is like trying to discover the street on which a lost child lives, by naming over a number of streets until one strikes the little one's ear as sounding familiar.

"Choice by development is a very different process. It does not ask, What shall I say? It turns the mind in upon itself and asks, What do I think? Thus, the subject may be said to choose itself, for in the process of thought or of reading one theme rises into prominence and becomes a living germ, soon to grow into the discourse. He who has not learned to reflect is not really acquainted with his own thoughts; hence, his thoughts are not productive. Habits of reading and reflection will supply the speaker's mind with an abundance of subjects of which he already knows something from the very reading and reflection which gave birth to his theme. This is not a paradox, but sober truth.

"It must be already apparent that the choice of a subject by development savors more of collection than of conscious selection. The subject 'pops into the mind.' ... In the intellect of the trained thinker it concentrates--by a process which we have seen to be induction--the facts and truths of which he has been reading and thinking. This is most often a gradual process. The scattered ideas may be but vaguely connected CHAPTER XVIII


at first, but more and more they concentrate and take on a single form until at length one strong idea seems to grasp the soul with irresistible force, and to cry aloud, 'Arise, I am your theme! Henceforth, until you transmute me by the alchemy of your inward fire into vital speech, you shall know no rest!' Happy, then, is that speaker, for he has found a subject that grips him.

"Of course, experienced speakers use both methods of selection. Even a reading and reflective man is sometimes compelled to hunt for a theme from Dan to Beersheba, and then the task of gathering materials becomes a serious one. But even in such a case there is a sense in which the selection comes by development, because no careful speaker settles upon a theme which does not represent at least some matured thought."[10]

Deciding on the Subject Matter

Even when your theme has been chosen for you by someone else, there remains to you a considerable field for choice of subject matter. The same considerations, in fact, that would govern you in choosing a theme must guide in the selection of the material. Ask yourself--or someone else--such questions as these: What is the precise nature of the occasion? How large an audience may be expected? From what walks of life do they come? What is their probable attitude toward the theme? Who else will speak? Do I speak first, last, or where, on the program? What are the other speakers going to talk about? What is the nature of the auditorium? Is there a desk? Could the subject be more effectively handled if somewhat modified? Precisely how much time am I to fill?

It is evident that many speech-misfits of subject, speaker, occasion and place are due to failure to ask just such pertinent questions. What should be said, by whom, and in what circumstances, constitute ninety per cent of efficiency in public address. No matter who asks you, refuse to be a square peg in a round hole.

Questions of Proportion

Proportion in a speech is attained by a nice adjustment of time. How fully you may treat your subject it is not always for you to say. Let ten minutes mean neither nine nor eleven--though better nine than eleven, at all events. You wouldn't steal a man's watch; no more should you steal the time of the succeeding speaker, or that of the audience. There is no need to overstep time-limits if you make your preparation adequate and divide your subject so as to give each thought its due proportion of attention--and no more. Blessed is the man that maketh short speeches, for he shall be invited to speak again.

Another matter of prime importance is, what part of your address demands the most emphasis. This once decided, you will know where to place that pivotal section so as to give it the greatest strategic value, and what degree of preparation must be given to that central thought so that the vital part may not be submerged by non-essentials. Many a speaker has awakened to find that he has burnt up eight minutes of a ten-minute speech in merely getting up steam. That is like spending eighty percent of your building-money on the vestibule of the house.

The same sense of proportion must tell you to stop precisely when you are through--and it is to be hoped that you will discover the arrival of that period before your audience does.

Tapping Original Sources

The surest way to give life to speech-material is to gather your facts at first hand. Your words come with the weight of authority when you can say, "I have examined the employment rolls of every mill in this district and find that thirty-two per cent of the children employed are under the legal age." No citation of authorities can equal that. You must adopt the methods of the reporter and find out the facts underlying your argument or appeal. To do so may prove laborious, but it should not be irksome, for the great world of fact teems with CHAPTER XVIII


interest, and over and above all is the sense of power that will come to you from original investigation. To see and feel the facts you are discussing will react upon you much more powerfully than if you were to secure the facts at second hand.

Live an active life among people who are doing worth-while things, keep eyes and ears and mind and heart open to absorb truth, and then tell of the things you know, as if you know them. The world will listen, for the world loves nothing so much as real life.

How to Use a Library

Unsuspected treasures lie in the smallest library. Even when the owner has read every last page of his books it is only in rare instances that he has full indexes to all of them, either in his mind or on paper, so as to make available the vast number of varied subjects touched upon or treated in volumes whose titles would never suggest such topics.

For this reason it is a good thing to take an odd hour now and then to browse. Take down one volume after another and look over its table of contents and its index. (It is a reproach to any author of a serious book not to have provided a full index, with cross references.) Then glance over the pages, making notes, mental or physical, of material that looks interesting and usable. Most libraries contain volumes that the owner is "going to read some day." A familiarity with even the contents of such books on your own shelves will enable you to refer to them when you want help. Writings read long ago should be treated in the same way--in every chapter some surprise lurks to delight you.

In looking up a subject do not be discouraged if you do not find it indexed or outlined in the table of contents--you are pretty sure to discover some material under a related title.

Suppose you set to work somewhat in this way to gather references on "Thinking:" First you look over your book titles, and there is Schaeffer's "Thinking and Learning to Think." Near it is Kramer's "Talks to Students on the Art of Study"--that seems likely to provide some material, and it does. Naturally you think next of your book on psychology, and there is help there. If you have a volume on the human intellect you will have already turned to it. Suddenly you remember your encyclopedia and your dictionary of quotations--and now material fairly rains upon you; the problem is what not to use. In the encyclopedia you turn to every reference that includes or touches or even suggests "thinking;" and in the dictionary of quotations you do the same. The latter volume you find peculiarly helpful because it suggests several volumes to you that are on your own shelves--you never would have thought to look in them for references on this subject. Even fiction will supply help, but especially books of essays and biography. Be aware of your own resources.

To make a general index to your library does away with the necessity for indexing individual volumes that are not already indexed.

To begin with, keep a note-book by you; or small cards and paper cuttings in your pocket and on your desk will serve as well. The same note-book that records the impressions of your own experiences and thoughts will be enriched by the ideas of others.

To be sure, this note-book habit means labor, but remember that more speeches have been spoiled by half-hearted preparation than by lack of talent. Laziness is an own-brother to Over-confidence, and both are your inveterate enemies, though they pretend to be soothing friends.

Conserve your material by indexing every good idea on cards, thus:





Progress of S., Env. 16 S. a fallacy, 96/210 General article on S., Howells', Dec. 1913 "Socialism and the Franchise," Forbes "Socialism in Ancient Life," Original Ms., Env. 102


On the card illustrated above, clippings are indexed by giving the number of the envelope in which they are filed. The envelopes may be of any size desired and kept in any convenient receptacle. On the foregoing example, "Progress of S., Envelope 16," will represent a clipping, filed in Envelope 16, which is, of course, numbered arbitrarily.

The fractions refer to books in your library--the numerator being the book-number, the denominator referring to the page. Thus, "S. a fallacy, 96/210," refers to page 210 of volume 96 in your library. By some arbitrary sign--say red ink--you may even index a reference in a public library book.

If you preserve your magazines, important articles may be indexed by month and year. An entire volume on a subject may be indicated like the imaginary book by "Forbes." If you clip the articles, it is better to index them according to the envelope system.

Your own writings and notes may be filed in envelopes with the clippings or in a separate series.

Another good indexing system combines the library index with the "scrap," or clipping, system by making the outside of the envelope serve the same purpose as the card for the indexing of books, magazines, clippings and manuscripts, the latter two classes of material being enclosed in the envelopes that index them, and all filed alphabetically.

When your cards accumulate so as to make ready reference difficult under a single alphabet, you may subdivide each letter by subordinate guide cards marked by the vowels, A, E, I, O, U. Thus, "Antiquities"

would be filed under i in A, because A begins the word, and the second letter, n, comes after the vowel i in the alphabet, but before o. In the same manner, "Beecher" would be filed under e in B; and "Hydrogen" would come under u in H.

Outlining the Address

No one can advise you how to prepare the notes for an address. Some speakers get the best results while walking out and ruminating, jotting down notes as they pause in their walk. Others never put pen to paper until the whole speech has been thought out. The great majority, however, will take notes, classify their notes, write a hasty first draft, and then revise the speech. Try each of these methods and choose the one that is best-- for you. Do not allow any man to force you to work in his way; but do not neglect to consider his way, for it may be better than your own.

For those who make notes and with their aid write out the speech, these suggestions may prove helpful: After having read and thought enough, classify your notes by setting down the big, central thoughts of your material on separate cards or slips of paper. These will stand in the same relation to your subject as chapters do to a book.

Then arrange these main ideas or heads in such an order that they will lead effectively to the result you have in mind, so that the speech may rise in argument, in interest, in power, by piling one fact or appeal upon another until the climax--the highest point of influence on your audience--has been reached.



Next group all your ideas, facts, anecdotes, and illustrations under the foregoing main heads, each where it naturally belongs.

You now have a skeleton or outline of your address that in its polished form might serve either as the brief, or manuscript notes, for the speech or as the guide-outline which you will expand into the written address, if written it is to be.

Imagine each of the main ideas in the brief on page 213 as being separate; then picture your mind as sorting them out and placing them in order; finally, conceive of how you would fill in the facts and examples under each head, giving special prominence to those you wish to emphasize and subduing those of less moment. In the end, you have the outline complete. The simplest form of outline--not very suitable for use on the platform, however--is the following:


What prosperity means.--The real tests of prosperity.--Its basis in the soil.--American agricultural progress.--New interest in farming.--Enormous value of our agricultural products.--Reciprocal effect on trade.--Foreign countries affected.--Effects of our new internal economy--the regulation of banking and "big business"--on prosperity.--Effects of our revised attitude toward foreign markets, including our merchant marine.--Summary.

Obviously, this very simple outline is capable of considerable expansion under each head by the addition of facts, arguments, inferences and examples.

Here is an outline arranged with more regard for argument:


I. FACT AS CAUSE: Many immigrants are practically paupers. (Proofs involving statistics or statements of authorities.)

II. FACT AS EFFECT: They sooner or later fill our alms-houses and become public charges. (Proofs involving statistics or statements of authorities.)

III. FACT AS CAUSE: Some of them are criminals. (Examples of recent cases.) IV. FACT AS EFFECT: They reënforce the criminal classes. (Effects on our civic life.) V. FACT AS CAUSE: Many of them know nothing of the duties of free citizenship. (Examples.) VI.FACT AS EFFECT: Such immigrants recruit the worst element in our politics. (Proofs.) A more highly ordered grouping of topics and subtopics is shown in the following: OURS A CHRISTIAN NATION

I. INTRODUCTION: Why the subject is timely. Influences operative against this contention today.


1. First practical discovery by a Christian explorer. Columbus worshiped God on the new soil.



2. The Cavaliers.

3. The French Catholic settlers.

4. The Huguenots.

5. The Puritans.


1. Christian character of Washington.

2. Other Christian patriots.

3. The Church in our Revolutionary struggle. Muhlenberg.

IV. OUR LATER HISTORY HAS ONLY EMPHASIZED OUR NATIONAL ATTITUDE. Examples of dealings with foreign nations show Christian magnanimity. Returning the Chinese Indemnity; fostering the Red Cross; attitude toward Belgium.


1. The use of the Bible in public ways, oaths, etc.

2. The Bible in our schools.

3. Christian chaplains minister to our law-making bodies, to our army, and to our navy.

4. The Christian Sabbath is officially and generally recognized.

5. The Christian family and the Christian system of morality are at the basis of our laws.

VI. THE LIFE OF THE PEOPLE TESTIFIES OF THE POWER OF CHRISTIANITY. Charities, education, etc., have Christian tone.


VIII. CONCLUSION: The attitude which may reasonably be expected of all good citizens toward questions touching the preservation of our standing as a Christian nation.

Writing and Revision

After the outline has been perfected comes the time to write the speech, if write it you must. Then, whatever you do, write it at white heat, with not too much thought of anything but the strong, appealing expression of your ideas.

The final stage is the paring down, the re-vision--the seeing again, as the word implies--when all the parts of the speech must be impartially scrutinized for clearness, precision, force, effectiveness, suitability, proportion, logical climax; and in all this you must imagine yourself to be before your audience, for a speech is not an essay and what will convince and arouse in the one will not prevail in the other.

The Title



Often last of all will come that which in a sense is first of all--the title, the name by which the speech is known. Sometimes it will be the simple theme of the address, as "The New Americanism," by Henry Watterson; or it may be a bit of symbolism typifying the spirit of the address, as "Acres of Diamonds," by Russell H. Conwell; or it may be a fine phrase taken from the body of the address, as "Pass Prosperity Around," by Albert J. Beveridge. All in all, from whatever motive it be chosen, let the title be fresh, short, suited to the subject, and likely to excite interest.


1. Define ( a) introduction; ( b) climax; ( c) peroration.

2. If a thirty-minute speech would require three hours for specific preparation, would you expect to be able to do equal justice to a speech one-third as long in one-third the time for preparation? Give reasons.

3. Relate briefly any personal experience you may have had in conserving time for reading and thought.

4. In the manner of a reporter or investigator, go out and get first-hand information on some subject of interest to the public. Arrange the results of your research in the form of an outline, or brief.

5. From a private or a public library gather enough authoritative material on one of the following questions to build an outline for a twenty-minute address. Take one definite side of the question, ( a) "The Housing of the Poor;" ( b) "The Commission Form of Government for Cities as a Remedy for Political Graft;" ( c) "The Test of Woman's Suffrage in the West;" ( d) "Present Trends of Public Taste in Reading;" ( e) "Municipal Art;" ( f)

"Is the Theatre Becoming more Elevated in Tone?" ( g) "The Effects of the Magazine on Literature;" ( h) "Does Modern Life Destroy Ideals?" ( i) "Is Competition 'the Life of Trade?'" ( j) "Baseball is too Absorbing to be a Wholesome National Game;" ( k) "Summer Baseball and Amateur Standing;" ( l) "Does College Training Unfit a Woman for Domestic Life?" ( m) "Does Woman's Competition with Man in Business Dull the Spirit of Chivalry?" ( n) "Are Elective Studies Suited to High School Courses?" ( o) "Does the Modern College Prepare Men for Preeminent Leadership?" ( p) "The Y.M.C.A. in Its Relation to the Labor Problem;" ( q) "Public Speaking as Training in Citizenship."

6. Construct the outline, examining it carefully for interest, convincing character, proportion, and climax of arrangement.

NOTE:--This exercise should be repeated until the student shows facility in synthetic arrangement.

7. Deliver the address, if possible before an audience.

8. Make a three-hundred word report on the results, as best you are able to estimate them.

9. Tell something of the benefits of using a periodical (or cumulative) index.

10. Give a number of quotations, suitable for a speaker's use, that you have memorized in off moments.

11. In the manner of the outline on page 213, analyze the address on pages 78-79, "The History of Liberty."

12. Give an outline analysis, from notes or memory, of an address or sermon to which you have listened for this purpose.

13. Criticise the address from a structural point of view.

14. Invent titles for any five of the themes in Exercise 5.



15. Criticise the titles of any five chapters of this book, suggesting better ones.

16. Criticise the title of any lecture or address of which you know.


[Footnote 10: How to Attract and Hold an Audience, J. Berg Esenwein.]

[Footnote 11: Adapted from Competition-Rhetoric, Scott and Denny, p. 241.]





Speak not at all, in any wise, till you have somewhat to speak; care not for the reward of your speaking, but simply and with undivided mind for the truth of your speaking.

--THOMAS CARLYLE, Essay on Biography.

A complete discussion of the rhetorical structure of public speeches requires a fuller treatise than can be undertaken in a work of this nature, yet in this chapter, and in the succeeding ones on "Description,"

"Narration," "Argument," and "Pleading," the underlying principles are given and explained as fully as need be for a working knowledge, and adequate book references are given for those who would perfect themselves in rhetorical art.

The Nature of Exposition

In the word "expose"-- to lay bare, to uncover, to show the true inwardness of--we see the foundation-idea of

"Exposition." It is the clear and precise setting forth of what the subject really is--it is explanation.

Exposition does not draw a picture, for that would be description. To tell in exact terms what the automobile is, to name its characteristic parts and explain their workings, would be exposition; so would an explanation of the nature of "fear." But to create a mental image of a particular automobile, with its glistening body, graceful lines, and great speed, would be description; and so would a picturing of fear acting on the emotions of a child at night. Exposition and description often intermingle and overlap, but fundamentally they are distinct. Their differences will be touched upon again in the chapter on "Description."

Exposition furthermore does not include an account of how events happened--that is narration. When Peary lectured on his polar discoveries he explained the instruments used for determining latitude and longitude--that was exposition. In picturing his equipment he used description. In telling of his adventures day by day he employed narration. In supporting some of his contentions he used argument. Yet he mingled all these forms throughout the lecture.

Neither does exposition deal with reasons and inferences--that is the field of argument. A series of connected statements intended to convince a prospective buyer that one automobile is better than another, or proofs that the appeal to fear is a wrong method of discipline, would not be exposition. The plain facts as set forth in expository speaking or writing are nearly always the basis of argument, yet the processes are not one. True, the statement of a single significant fact without the addition of one other word may be convincing, but a moment's thought will show that the inference, which completes a chain of reasoning, is made in the mind of the hearer and presupposes other facts held in consideration.[12]

In like manner, it is obvious that the field of persuasion is not open to exposition, for exposition is entirely an intellectual process, with no emotional element.

The Importance of Exposition

The importance of exposition in public speech is precisely the importance of setting forth a matter so plainly that it cannot be misunderstood.

"To master the process of exposition is to become a clear thinker. 'I know, when you do not ask me,'[13]

replied a gentleman upon being requested to define a highly complex idea. Now some large concepts defy explicit definition; but no mind should take refuge behind such exceptions, for where definition fails, other CHAPTER XIX


forms succeed. Sometimes we feel confident that we have perfect mastery of an idea, but when the time comes to express it, the clearness becomes a haze. Exposition, then, is the test of clear understanding. To speak effectively you must be able to see your subject clearly and comprehensively, and to make your audience see it as you do."[14]

There are pitfalls on both sides of this path. To explain too little will leave your audience in doubt as to what you mean. It is useless to argue a question if it is not perfectly clear just what is meant by the question. Have you never come to a blind lane in conversation by finding that you were talking of one aspect of a matter while your friend was thinking of another? If two do not agree in their definitions of a Musician, it is useless to dispute over a certain man's right to claim the title.

On the other side of the path lies the abyss of tediously explaining too much. That offends because it impresses the hearers that you either do not respect their intelligence or are trying to blow a breeze into a tornado. Carefully estimate the probable knowledge of your audience, both in general and of the particular point you are explaining. In trying to simplify, it is fatal to "sillify." To explain more than is needed for the purposes of your argument or appeal is to waste energy all around. In your efforts to be explicit do not press exposition to the extent of dulness--the confines are not far distant and you may arrive before you know it.

Some Purposes of Exposition

From what has been said it ought to be clear that, primarily, exposition weaves a cord of understanding between you and your audience. It lays, furthermore, a foundation of fact on which to build later statements, arguments, and appeals. In scientific and purely "information" speeches exposition may exist by itself and for itself, as in a lecture on biology, or on psychology; but in the vast majority of cases it is used to accompany and prepare the way for the other forms of discourse.

Clearness, precision, accuracy, unity, truth, and necessity--these must be the constant standards by which you test the efficiency of your expositions, and, indeed, that of every explanatory statement. This dictum should be written on your brain in letters most plain. And let this apply not alone to the purposes of exposition but in equal measure to your use of the

Methods of Exposition

The various ways along which a speaker may proceed in exposition are likely to touch each other now and then, and even when they do not meet and actually overlap they run so nearly parallel that the roads are sometimes distinct rather in theory than in any more practical respect.

=Definition=, the primary expository method, is a statement of precise limits.[15] Obviously, here the greatest care must be exercised that the terms of definition should not themselves demand too much definition; that the language should be concise and clear; and that the definition should neither exclude nor include too much.

The following is a simple example:

To expound is to set forth the nature, the significance, the characteristics, and the bearing of an idea or a group of ideas.

--ARLO BATES, Talks on Writing English.

=Contrast and Antithesis= are often used effectively to amplify definition, as in this sentence, which immediately follows the above-cited definition:

Exposition therefore differs from Description in that it deals directly with the meaning or intent of its subject instead of with its appearance.



This antithesis forms an expansion of the definition, and as such it might have been still further extended. In fact, this is a frequent practise in public speech, where the minds of the hearers often ask for reiteration and expanded statement to help them grasp a subject in its several aspects. This is the very heart of exposition--to amplify and clarify all the terms by which a matter is defined.

=Example= is another method of amplifying a definition or of expounding an idea more fully. The following sentences immediately succeed Mr. Bates's definition and contrast just quoted: A good deal which we are accustomed inexactly to call description is really exposition. Suppose that your small boy wishes to know how an engine works, and should say: "Please describe the steam-engine to me." If you insist on taking his words literally--and are willing to run the risk of his indignation at being wilfully misunderstood--you will to the best of your ability picture to him this familiarly wonderful machine. If you explain it to him, you are not describing but expounding it.

The chief value of example is that it makes clear the unknown by referring the mind to the known. Readiness of mind to make illuminating, apt comparisons for the sake of clearness is one of the speaker's chief resources on the platform--it is the greatest of all teaching gifts. It is a gift, moreover, that responds to cultivation. Read the three extracts from Arlo Bates as their author delivered them, as one passage, and see how they melt into one, each part supplementing the other most helpfully.

=Analogy=, which calls attention to similar relationships in objects not otherwise similar, is one of the most useful methods of exposition. The following striking specimen is from Beecher's Liverpool speech: A savage is a man of one story, and that one story a cellar. When a man begins to be civilized he raises another story. When you christianize and civilize the man, you put story upon story, for you develop faculty after faculty; and you have to supply every story with your productions.

=Discarding= is a less common form of platform explanation. It consists in clearing away associated ideas so that the attention may be centered on the main thought to be discussed. Really, it is a negative factor in exposition though a most important one, for it is fundamental to the consideration of an intricately related matter that subordinate and side questions should be set aside in order to bring out the main issue. Here is an example of the method:

I cannot allow myself to be led aside from the only issue before this jury. It is not pertinent to consider that this prisoner is the husband of a heartbroken woman and that his babes will go through the world under the shadow of the law's extremest penalty worked upon their father. We must forget the venerable father and the mother whom Heaven in pity took before she learned of her son's disgrace. What have these matters of heart, what have the blenched faces of his friends, what have the prisoner's long and honorable career to say before this bar when you are sworn to weigh only the direct evidence before you? The one and only question for you to decide on the evidence is whether this man did with revengeful intent commit the murder that every impartial witness has solemnly laid at his door.

=Classification= assigns a subject to its class. By an allowable extension of the definition it may be said to assign it also to its order, genus, and species. Classification is useful in public speech in narrowing the issue to a desired phase. It is equally valuable for showing a thing in its relation to other things, or in correlation.

Classification is closely akin to Definition and Division.

This question of the liquor traffic, sirs, takes its place beside the grave moral issues of all times. Whatever be its economic significance--and who is there to question it--whatever vital bearing it has upon our political system--and is there one who will deny it?--the question of the licensed saloon must quickly be settled as the world in its advancement has settled the questions of constitutional government for the masses, of the opium traffic, of the serf, and of the slave--not as matters of economic and political expediency but as questions of CHAPTER XIX


right and wrong.

=Analysis= separates a subject into its essential parts. This it may do by various principles; for example, analysis may follow the order of time (geologic eras), order of place (geographic facts), logical order (a sermon outline), order of increasing interest, or procession to a climax (a lecture on 20th century poets); and so on. A classic example of analytical exposition is the following: In philosophy the contemplations of man do either penetrate unto God, or are circumferred to nature, or are reflected or reverted upon himself. Out of which several inquiries there do arise three knowledges: divine philosophy, natural philosophy, and human philosophy or humanity. For all things are marked and stamped with this triple character, of the power of God, the difference of nature, and the use of man.

--LORD BACON, The Advancement of Learning.[16]

=Division= differs only from analysis in that analysis follows the inherent divisions of a subject, as illustrated in the foregoing passage, while division arbitrarily separates the subject for convenience of treatment, as in the following none-too-logical example:

For civil history, it is of three kinds; not unfitly to be compared with the three kinds of pictures or images. For of pictures or images, we see some are unfinished, some are perfect, and some are defaced. So of histories we may find three kinds, memorials, perfect histories, and antiquities; for memorials are history unfinished, or the first or rough drafts of history; and antiquities are history defaced, or some remnants of history which have casually escaped the shipwreck of time.

--LORD BACON, The Advancement of Learning.[16A]

=Generalization= states a broad principle, or a general truth, derived from examination of a considerable number of individual facts. This synthetic exposition is not the same as argumentative generalization, which supports a general contention by citing instances in proof. Observe how Holmes begins with one fact, and by adding another and another reaches a complete whole. This is one of the most effective devices in the public speaker's repertory.

Take a hollow cylinder, the bottom closed while the top remains open, and pour in water to the height of a few inches. Next cover the water with a flat plate or piston, which fits the interior of the cylinder perfectly; then apply heat to the water, and we shall witness the following phenomena. After the lapse of some minutes the water will begin to boil, and the steam accumulating at the upper surface will make room for itself by raising the piston slightly. As the boiling continues, more and more steam will be formed, and raise the piston higher and higher, till all the water is boiled away, and nothing but steam is left in the cylinder. Now this machine, consisting of cylinder, piston, water, and fire, is the steam-engine in its most elementary form. For a steam-engine may be defined as an apparatus for doing work by means of heat applied to water; and since raising such a weight as the piston is a form of doing work, this apparatus, clumsy and inconvenient though it may be, answers the definition precisely.[17]

=Reference to Experience= is one of the most vital principles in exposition--as in every other form of discourse.

"Reference to experience, as here used, means reference to the known. The known is that which the listener has seen, heard, read, felt, believed or done, and which still exists in his consciousness--his stock of knowledge. It embraces all those thoughts, feelings and happenings which are to him real. Reference to Experience, then, means coming into the listener's life.[18]

The vast results obtained by science are won by no mystical faculties, by no mental processes, other than CHAPTER XIX


those which are practised by every one of us in the humblest and meanest affairs of life. A detective policeman discovers a burglar from the marks made by his shoe, by a mental process identical with that by which Cuvier restored the extinct animals of Montmartre from fragments of their bones. Nor does that process of induction and deduction by which a lady, finding a stain of a particular kind upon her dress, concludes that somebody has upset the inkstand thereon, differ in any way from that by which Adams and Leverrier discovered a new planet. The man of science, in fact, simply uses with scrupulous exactness the methods which we all habitually, and at every moment, use carelessly.


Do you set down your name in the scroll of youth, that are written down old with all the characters of age?

Have you not a moist eye? a dry hand? a yellow cheek? a white beard? a decreasing leg? an increasing belly?

is not your voice broken? your wind short? your chin double? your wit single? and every part about you blasted with antiquity? and will you yet call yourself young? Fie, fie, fie, Sir John!

--SHAKESPEARE, The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Finally, in preparing expository material ask yourself these questions regarding your subject: What is it, and what is it not? What is it like, and unlike? What are its causes, and effects? How shall it be divided? With what subjects is it correlated? What experiences does it recall? What examples illustrate it?


1. What would be the effect of adhering to any one of the forms of discourse in a public address?

2. Have you ever heard such an address?

3. Invent a series of examples illustrative of the distinctions made on pages 232 and 233.

4. Make a list of ten subjects that might be treated largely, if not entirely, by exposition.

5. Name the six standards by which expository writing should be tried.

6. Define any one of the following: ( a) storage battery; ( b) "a free hand;" ( c) sail boat; ( d) "The Big Stick;" ( e) nonsense; ( f) "a good sport;" ( g) short-story; ( h) novel; ( i) newspaper; ( j) politician; ( k) jealousy; ( l) truth; ( m) matinée girl; ( n) college honor system; ( o) modish; ( p) slum; ( q) settlement work; ( r) forensic.

7. Amplify the definition by antithesis.

8. Invent two examples to illustrate the definition (question 6).

9. Invent two analogies for the same subject (question 6).

10. Make a short speech based on one of the following: ( a) wages and salary; ( b) master and man; ( c) war and peace; ( d) home and the boarding house; ( e) struggle and victory; ( f) ignorance and ambition.

11. Make a ten-minute speech on any of the topics named in question 6, using all the methods of exposition already named.

12. Explain what is meant by discarding topics collateral and subordinate to a subject.



13. Rewrite the jury-speech on page 224.

14. Define correlation.

15. Write an example of "classification," on any political, social, economic, or moral issue of the day.

16. Make a brief analytical statement of Henry W. Grady's "The Race Problem," page 36.

17. By what analytical principle did you proceed? (See page 225.)

18. Write a short, carefully generalized speech from a large amount of data on one of the following subjects: ( a) The servant girl problem; ( b) cats; ( c) the baseball craze; ( d) reform administrations; ( e) sewing societies; ( f) coeducation; ( g) the traveling salesman.

19. Observe this passage from Newton's "Effective Speaking:"

"That man is a cynic. He sees goodness nowhere. He sneers at virtue, sneers at love; to him the maiden plighting her troth is an artful schemer, and he sees even in the mother's kiss nothing but an empty conventionality."

Write, commit and deliver two similar passages based on your choice from this list: ( a) "the egotist;" ( b) "the sensualist;" ( c) "the hypocrite;" ( d) "the timid man;" ( e) "the joker;" ( f) "the flirt;" ( g) "the ungrateful woman;"

( h) "the mournful man." In both cases use the principle of "Reference to Experience."

20. Write a passage on any of the foregoing characters in imitation of the style of Shakespeare's characterization of Sir John Falstaff, page 227.


[Footnote 12: Argumentation will be outlined fully in subsequent chapter.]

[Footnote 13: The Working Principles of Rhetoric, J.F. Genung.]

[Footnote 14: How to Attract and Hold an Audience, J. Berg Esenwein.]

[Footnote 15: On the various types of definition see any college manual of Rhetoric.]

[Footnote 16: Quoted in The Working Principles of Rhetoric, J.F. Genung.]

[Footnote 16A: Quoted in The Working Principles of Rhetoric, J.F. Genung.]

[Footnote 17: G.C.V. Holmes, quoted in Specimens of Exposition, H. Lamont.]

[Footnote 18: Effective Speaking, Arthur Edward Phillips. This work covers the preparation of public speech in a very helpful way.]





The groves of Eden vanish'd now so long, Live in description, and look green in song.

--ALEXANDER POPE, Windsor Forest.

The moment our discourse rises above the ground-line of familiar facts, and is inflamed with passion or exalted thought, it clothes itself in images. A man conversing in earnest, if he watch his intellectual processes, will find that always a material image, more or less luminous, arises in his mind, contemporaneous with every thought, which furnishes the vestment of the thought.... This imagery is spontaneous. It is the blending of experience with the present action of the mind. It is proper creation.


Like other valuable resources in public speaking, description loses its power when carried to an extreme.

Over-ornamentation makes the subject ridiculous. A dust-cloth is a very useful thing, but why embroider it?

Whether description shall be restrained within its proper and important limits, or be encouraged to run riot, is the personal choice that comes before every speaker, for man's earliest literary tendency is to depict.

The Nature of Description

To describe is to call up a picture in the mind of the hearer. "In talking of description we naturally speak of portraying, delineating, coloring, and all the devices of the picture painter. To describe is to visualize, hence we must look at description as a pictorial process, whether the writer deals with material or with spiritual objects."[19]

If you were asked to describe the rapid-fire gun you might go about it in either of two ways: give a cold technical account of its mechanism, in whole and in detail, or else describe it as a terrible engine of slaughter, dwelling upon its effects rather than upon its structure.

The former of these processes is exposition, the latter is true description. Exposition deals more with the general, while description must deal with the particular. Exposition elucidates ideas, description treats of things. Exposition deals with the abstract, description with the concrete. Exposition is concerned with the internal, description with the external. Exposition is enumerative, description literary. Exposition is intellectual, description sensory. Exposition is impersonal, description personal.

If description is a visualizing process for the hearer, it is first of all such for the speaker--he cannot describe what he has never seen, either physically or in fancy. It is this personal quality--this question of the personal eye which sees the things later to be described--that makes description so interesting in public speech. Given a speaker of personality, and we are interested in his personal view--his view adds to the natural interest of the scene, and may even be the sole source of that interest to his auditors.

The seeing eye has been praised in an earlier chapter (on "Subject and Preparation") and the imagination will be treated in a subsequent one (on "Riding the Winged Horse"), but here we must consider the picturing mind: the mind that forms the double habit of seeing things clearly--for we see more with the mind than we do with the physical eye--and then of re-imaging these things for the purpose of getting them before the minds' eyes of the hearers. No habit is more useful than that of visualizing clearly the object, the scene, the situation, the action, the person, about to be described. Unless that primary process is carried out clearly, the picture will be blurred for the hearer-beholder.



In a work of this nature we are concerned with the rhetorical analysis of description, and with its methods, only so far as may be needed for the practical purposes of the speaker.[20] The following grouping, therefore, will not be regarded as complete, nor will it here be necessary to add more than a word of explanation: Description for Public Speakers

Objects { Still " " { In motion

Scenes { Still " " { Including action

Situations { Preceding change " " { During change " " { After change Actions { Mental " " { Physical

Persons { Internal " " { External

Some of the foregoing processes will overlap, in certain instances, and all are more likely to be found in combination than singly.

When description is intended solely to give accurate information--as to delineate the appearance, not the technical construction, of the latest Zeppelin airship--it is called "scientific description," and is akin to exposition. When it is intended to present a free picture for the purpose of making a vivid impression, it is called "artistic description." With both of these the public speaker has to deal, but more frequently with the latter form. Rhetoricians make still further distinctions.

Methods of Description

In public speaking, description should be mainly by suggestion, not only because suggestive description is so much more compact and time-saving but because it is so vivid. Suggestive expressions connote more than they literally say--they suggest ideas and pictures to the mind of the hearer which supplement the direct words of the speaker. When Dickens, in his "Christmas Carol," says: "In came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile," our minds complete the picture so deftly begun--a much more effective process than that of a minutely detailed description because it leaves a unified, vivid impression, and that is what we need. Here is a present-day bit of suggestion: "General Trinkle was a gnarly oak of a man--rough, solid, and safe; you always knew where to find him." Dickens presents Miss Peecher as: "A little pin-cushion, a little housewife, a little book, a little work-box, a little set of tables and weights and measures, and a little woman all in one." In his

"Knickerbocker's" "History of New York," Irving portrays Wouter van Twiller as "a robustious beer-barrel, standing on skids."

Whatever forms of description you neglect, be sure to master the art of suggestion.

Description may be by simple hint. Lowell notes a happy instance of this sort of picturing by intimation when he says of Chaucer: "Sometimes he describes amply by the merest hint, as where the Friar, before setting himself down, drives away the cat. We know without need of more words that he has chosen the snuggest corner."

Description may depict a thing by its effects. "When the spectator's eye is dazzled, and he shades it," says Mozley in his "Essays," "we form the idea of a splendid object; when his face turns pale, of a horrible one; from his quick wonder and admiration we form the idea of great beauty; from his silent awe, of great majesty."

Brief description may be by epithet. "Blue-eyed," "white-armed," "laughter-loving," are now conventional CHAPTER XX


compounds, but they were fresh enough when Homer first conjoined them. The centuries have not yet improved upon "Wheels round, brazen, eight-spoked," or "Shields smooth, beautiful, brazen, well-hammered." Observe the effective use of epithet in Will Levington Comfort's "The Fighting Death,"

when he speaks of soldiers in a Philippine skirmish as being "leeched against a rock."

Description uses figures of speech. Any advanced rhetoric will discuss their forms and give examples for guidance.[21] This matter is most important, be assured. A brilliant yet carefully restrained figurative style, a style marked by brief, pungent, witty, and humorous comparisons and characterizations, is a wonderful resource for all kinds of platform work.

Description may be direct. This statement is plain enough without exposition. Use your own judgment as to whether in picturing you had better proceed from a general view to the details, or first give the details and thus build up the general picture, but by all means BE BRIEF.

Note the vivid compactness of these delineations from Washington Irving's "Knickerbocker:"

He was a short, square, brawny old gentleman, with a double chin, a mastiff mouth, and a broad copper nose, which was supposed in those days to have acquired its fiery hue from the constant neighborhood of his tobacco pipe.

He was exactly five feet six inches in height, and six feet five inches in circumference. His head was a perfect sphere, and of such stupendous dimensions, that Dame Nature, with all her sex's ingenuity, would have been puzzled to construct a neck capable of supporting it; wherefore she wisely declined the attempt, and settled it firmly on the top of his backbone, just between the shoulders. His body was of an oblong form, particularly capacious at bottom; which was wisely ordered by Providence, seeing that he was a man of sedentary habits, and very averse to the idle labor of walking.

The foregoing is too long for the platform, but it is so good-humored, so full of delightful exaggeration, that it may well serve as a model of humorous character picturing, for here one inevitably sees the inner man in the outer.

Direct description for platform use may be made vivid by the sparing use of the "historical present." The following dramatic passage, accompanied by the most lively action, has lingered in the mind for thirty years after hearing Dr. T. De Witt Talmage lecture on "Big Blunders." The crack of the bat sounds clear even today: Get ready the bats and take your positions. Now, give us the ball. Too low. Don't strike. Too high. Don't strike. There it comes like lightning. Strike! Away it soars! Higher! Higher! Run! Another base! Faster!

Faster! Good! All around at one stroke!

Observe the remarkable way in which the lecturer fused speaker, audience, spectators, and players into one excited, ecstatic whole--just as you have found yourself starting forward in your seat at the delivery of the ball with "three on and two down" in the ninth inning. Notice, too, how--perhaps unconsciously--Talmage painted the scene in Homer's characteristic style: not as having already happened, but as happening before your eyes.

If you have attended many travel talks you must have been impressed by the painful extremes to which the lecturers go--with a few notable exceptions, their language is either over-ornate or crude. If you would learn the power of words to make scenery, yes, even houses, palpitate with poetry and human appeal, read Lafcadio Hearn, Robert Louis Stevenson, Pierre Loti, and Edmondo De Amicis.

Blue-distant, a mountain of carven stone appeared before them,--the Temple, lifting to heaven its wilderness of chiseled pinnacles, flinging to the sky the golden spray of its decoration.